I’d finally settled into my own place after a couple of years bouncing between Glasgow and my native Ayrshire. I chose Paisley. I could get more bang for my buck there and it wasn’t a million miles away from Glasgow but far enough to keep me from misbehaving too badly.
Little Prague, as it became known, had become home to some strange creatures. Shinty, Crunchie, and Lumpy. I was the former, and Iain was the latter. I’m not going to even start on the filling in that sandwich.
Iain was a cool cat. He was absolutely unflappable, nothing seemed to phase him. I’m not sure that mellow would quite fit the description, but he was ludicrously easy going. I once received a phone call from him during one of his shifts. He was his usual jovial self and wanted to enquire as to the source of the drama surrounding him. I turned on the telly to see if there had been any serious goings on. Turned out he was directly above the terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport. “Fairy snuff. Catch you in a bit.” was his reaction. I reckon I was more worried about his situation than he was. Unbelievable.
A student of Music Technology, he was pretty keen on having tunes on most, if not all, of the time the flat was occupied during waking hours. This suited me down to the ground. My PC was hooked up through the stereo in the lounge and systems were all go. All the music that entered the flat was promptly ripped to the hard disk and filed by the iTunes helper monkeys.
If you were to doodle our combined musical taste on to a Venn diagram there would be a relatively large overlap, one which would progress to envelop much more. I reckon his input influenced me far more than I managed to impart upon his taste.
Lumpy loved his classic pop rock and funk; two genres that I hadn’t really investigated. Names like David Bowie were obviously known to me, but I’d never really invested any time or parted with any cash to get started on collating my own collection of their works. You see, I’m the kind of guy that needs to have complete collections. If I buy A New Hope, I’d need to buy Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. How do you even begin to look into a prolific artist with a 40+ year career?
Well, the answer to that is you have someone move in to your home who owns a complete collection of their works.
I fell in love with Bowie. Not all of it though. Between ’69 and ’74 he was, in my mind, one of the greatest songwriters that has ever graced our blue and green rock we call Earth. After that period I can really take it or leave it. Similarly, funk produced in the very late 70’s and through the 80’s really did nothing for me. Actually, I’d go as far to say it annoyed me. I have a problem with the overuse of synths, so I’m really not big on the pop music of the 80’s. And it didn’t end there…
If you’ve ever had a dig about the bargain bins in supermarkets for compilation CDs you’ll probably know that they are normally populated with music ranging from utter dross to complete mince, or its some crooners and out of copyright pop music from the 40’s and 50’s. It never seems to stop me rooting around in them though, you know, diamond in the rough and all that. One evening, probably just after 7:15pm*, Lumpy comes bounding over to me brandishing a brightly coloured and incredibly tacky looking compilation CD with a big £2 sticker marked down to pennies in permanent ink. The supermarket blatantly had enough of it and wanted rid.
“I am so getting this. Boom.” he proclaimed.
And got it he did, and gave a new home to “The Brazilian Funk Experience”.
It was probably the best handful of smash he ever spent. A whole CD of sunshine and warmth. Cleaning the flat? The BFE went on. Reading the paper? On with the Brazilian funk. Just wanting a wee dance to yourself doing the ironing? The disc got a spin. Did we understand what they were singing? Not at all, but it didn’t stop us from getting into it and joining in. “Garra” by Marcos Valle was probably our favourite track… mainly because we could join in with the Ah! Ah!’s that form the hook in the chorus. Glorious.
Fresh musical pastures were opening up before my eyes (and ears!), ready to explore with someone nudging me in the right direction. Our musical tastes weren’t the only match either; we had a very similar cinematic palette too. One of our finest discoveries was the artist that produced much of the soundtrack for the Wes Anderson film “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”. Seu Jorge appeared throughout the movie as a crew member on board the Belafonte, normally plucking his guitar and singing hauntingly familiar songs in Portuguese. It didn’t take us long to realise they were renditions of David Bowie songs, beautifully rearranged and delivered with such warmth and passion. It took us even less time to get a copy of the soundtrack on order.
As with many other things in life, influence is a two way street. Here’s one track I inflicted upon Lumpy’s sensibilities, bending his musical tolerances, and managed to sneak in to a few of his playlists for a while… Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a Scandinavian folk metal band covering a 70’s euro-disco hit about a death defying Russian casanova;
*7:15pm, incase you didn’t know, is when Morrison’s marks down all of the long sweating items in hot cooked meat counter down to buttons so they can get shot of it before they close at 8.
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